White House Backs Development of Heroin Vaccine

White House Backs Development of Heroin Vaccine
woman offering syringe
[T]he heroin vaccine would have to be administered in repeated doses and would be very expensive.

On Mar. 19, 2018, the White House announced the “President Donald J. Trump’s Initiative to Stop Opioid Abuse and Reduce Drug Supply and Demand.”1 The program will include “supporting research and development for a vaccine to prevent opioid addiction and non-addictive pain management options.”1  This support will help “boost” research being conducted on experimental heroin vaccine for mice and rats at the U.S. Military HIV Research Program at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (WRAIR).2 

The experimental new heroin vaccine, which was co-developed at National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), stimulated the production of antibodies that bound to heroin, thus preventing the drug from crossing the blood-brain barrier3 and preventing the “euphoric effects” of heroin in mice and rates.2 4

According to Gary Matyas, PhD, chief of adjuvants and formulations for the U.S. Military Research Program (MHRP): “By eliciting antibodies that bind with heroin in the blood, the vaccine aims to block the euphoria and addictive effects. We hope to give people a window so they can overcome their addiction.”4 

The results of the WRAIR/NIDA research were published as a study in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry on Dec. 13, 2017.5

“Although we are still in the early phase, this study suggests that vaccination can be used together with standard therapies to prevent the withdrawal and craving symptoms associated with opioid withdrawal,” stated Dr. Matyas.4

The heroin vaccine alone is not envisioned to solve the opioid epidemic. “This is not any kind of magic bullet,” says John Franklin, MD, chief of addictions in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University. “This is another tool to give opioid users a chance.” Dr. Franklin notes that the heroin vaccine would have to be administered in repeated doses and would be very expensive.2 

While it is unclear how much money the Trump administration plans to spend on developing the heroin vaccine, the administration has requested a total of $13 billion in new funding over the next two years for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which oversees the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to “combat the opioid epidemic by expanding access to prevention, treatment, and recovery support services.”2 6

Other institutes, including the Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), have been working on the development of a heroin vaccine during the past decade. In June 2017, TSRI completed pre-clinical testing of a heroin vaccine. However, the pharmaceutical industry has, thus far, been reluctant to fund human clinical trials for such a vaccine.7

According to journalist Rishma Parpia of The Vaccine Reaction: “It has been speculated that Pharma is uninterested in the heroin vaccine because of their financial success with current drugs on the market used for the treatment of opioid dependence. There are approximately thirteen prescription drugs on the market used for treatment of opioid addiction withdrawal/dependence.”7


1 White House. President Donald J. Trump’s Initiative to Stop Opioid Abuse and Reduce Drug Supply and Demand. WhiteHouse.gov Mar. 19, 2018.
2 Morgan R. Trump’s new opioid battle plan supports search for an addiction vaccine. CNBC Mar. 19, 2018.
3 Raines K. The Blood-Brain Barrier: Nature’s Security System. The Vaccine Reaction Feb. 8, 2016.
4 EurekAlert! New vaccine technology shows promise as a tool to combat the opioid crisis. EurekAlert.org Dec. 18, 2017.
5 Sulima A, Jalah R, Antoline JFG, Torres OB, Imler GH, Deschamps JR, Beck Z, Alving CR, Jacobson AE, Rice KC, Matyas GR. A Stable Heroin Analogue That Can Serve as a Vaccine Hapten to Induce Antibodies That Block the Effects of Heroin and Its Metabolites in Rodents and That Cross-React Immunologically with Related Drugs of Abuse. Journal of Medical Chemistry Dec. 13, 2017.
6 White House. How We Will Win the War on Opioids. WhiteHouse.gov Mar. 1, 2018.
7 Parpia R. Pharma Won’t Fund Heroin Vaccine Trials. The Vaccine Reaction Oct. 26, 2017.

13 Responses to "White House Backs Development of Heroin Vaccine"

  1. Marc   April 15, 2018 at 6:04 pm

    Why not use hemp (Not cannabis) cbd oil? There are no side effects as from vaccine adjuvants and pharmaceutical drugs. Hemp cbd oil has no thc, therefore no psychoreactive affects, and it works to control pain…

  2. Roberto   April 15, 2018 at 6:34 pm

    BS+ the only way to stop the opioid crisis is the burn the damn poppy fields that our military is protecting in Afghanistan. CIA crap.

    • Jaimi Butler   April 16, 2018 at 10:49 am

      My thoughts exactly! Our government makes sure the world has ample supply of heroine. If we wanted to stop it…we could! No vaccine needed!

      • BRITT SAWYER   February 1, 2019 at 1:59 am

        The government can’t stop it. If the government stops one the black market will just create a knockoff. Just like with what happened with Prohibition. As long as there is a market for it it will continue. The only one that can put a stop to all of it is HIM☝️! ?

  3. Sandra Lee Smith   April 15, 2018 at 6:40 pm

    Better idea; RECOGNIZE this is a DESTRUCTIVE BEHAVIOR and treat it as such. Drugs will not stop it; modifying behaviors and thinking patterns will, but only if the individual WANTS to change and is willing to do the work necessary to modify his own thinking and behaviors. Most are not. Addiction is NOT a disease; you can’t cure it with a pill, or prevent it with a vaccine; it’s a behavior disorder. God calls it “sin”, and has a “cure” for that, but as long as people are allowed to NOT be held accountable for their behaviors, everything else is a waste of time and money both.

    • Bob   April 16, 2018 at 5:18 am

      I agree, Sandra. Take away the heroin addiction and it’ll be replaced by something else until you can address why the person wants to stay high in the first place. It reminds me of that scene in the Woody Allen film when he ponders what happened to his old classmates. The one says, “I was a heroin addict and now I’m a methadone addict.”

    • Kathleen Peters   April 16, 2018 at 6:28 am

      To Sandra Lee Smiths comment, I have to say that is spot on ! It was courageous of you to tell the truth and I thank you for that. May your wisdom spark hope and truth in others.

    • Sharry Edwards   May 7, 2018 at 10:20 am

      AWESOME answer – RIGHT ON

  4. Keyna Welenc   April 15, 2018 at 7:13 pm

    ALL Vaccines contain aluminum and mercury as a preservative.
    Rather than test another dangerous vaccine, find volunteers that are willing to take IBOGAINE (A PLANT ALSO KNOWN AS A “RESET BUTTON”)
    In the 1960’s Ibogaine was found to eliminate withdrawal symptoms from those suffering opiate dependency. Ibogaine has saved tens of thousands of lives.


  5. Isabella Perugia   April 16, 2018 at 1:58 am

    That’s great !! (sarcasm) ..as a good Italian I have being drinking coffee and I can’t stop it, I al looking forward for a Coffee’s Vaccine. …

  6. Karen   April 17, 2018 at 3:55 pm

    Anyone for a vaccine against corrupt politicians and Stupid ideas?

  7. Sharry Edwards   May 7, 2018 at 10:19 am

    We have a frequency version of Narcan – that may help with an overdose but not on prevention – I’ll work on that

  8. KT   February 1, 2019 at 1:47 am

    The ones on here commenting that addiction is only a “head illness” and not a disease obviously has no earthly idea what they are talking about and haven’t personally known someone or have been the one dealing with addiction themselves. You “think” you know, but you don’t. People do NOT choose to live a life of addiction…it chooses you, no matter what age, color, sex, background, religion, class you are! It does not discriminate. One person could take one drink after work, one pill because they are in pain or do one line of something due to a night of partying and be fine while the next person could do the same thing and end up fighting a battle for the rest of their life that they didn’t want to start to begin with. That happens due to your chemical makeup, genetics, and your brain chemistry. Please do some real research and actually talk to people who are addicted. It is NOT as cut and dry as you think it is.
    I pray that none of you ever experience addiction or have a loved one who becomes addicted. But if you do, I hope you will read up on it more and not pass judgment so easily. The majority of the addicted would give anything to go back and change that one decision that started it all. And I am DEFINITELY NOT saying overlook or forget the bad things that they do/did to feed the addiction…just realize that to them it is survival (life/death because that is exactly what they’re brain and body are telling them) God bless


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